Well, I guess I started riding as a young child. First the tricycle with no brakes, then my brother’s borrowed bike, finally owning a two wheel bike of my own. In the 70s we either rode or walked to school so I gained a bit of confidence. Travelling overseas when I was 18, my girlfriend and I did some riding in Great Britain, the same girlfriend and I recently rode the brilliant 100km Ascent ride organised by Bicycle Network Victoria.
I did some riding in my 20s around the suburbs then entered one of the first Great Victorian Bike Rides which inspired me to do some more touring.
Several years later my husband and I took off from Adelaide up to Darwin, Timor, Bali and Malaysia for our honeymoon of eight months with bikes loaded with gear and lots of energy I guess!
There were a number of years then that I didn’t even own a bike. Having children, living in Sydney (too many hills and too much traffic) and other stuff got in the way.
So its only been the last 10 years that I’ve got back on a bike and started enjoying it again, Although I must admit I am much more fearful and aware of the traffic and some of the bad vibes about cyclists on Australian roads. I am determined not to let my fears stop me from getting out there and enjoying the freedom a bike allows.
I now own two bikes, one very heavy mountain bike which is good for training (I hardly ever ride it!) and a Specialized road bike with flat handlebars that I love. I didn’t grow up riding with the curved ones so I never felt comfortable with them, I even ride with cleats, which I am very proud of.
I have spurts of riding, sometimes I might ride several times a week with a long ride 50 – 100 km on the weekend.
I ride for a number of reasons. I enjoy keeping fit and a day on the bike is so good for the body, mind and soul. I love riding to explore new places and have done several trips overseas. I also love a full day of riding so that I can eat as much as I want, which is always a bonus!
I am inspired by anyone who keeps fit really, it doesn’t have to be cycling but as I have reflected back it seems it has been an important part of my life. I don’t cycle to achieve goals, I don’t use strava or any other app or timing device. I am not competitive with others although I do like to complete a ride that I have set myself. I enjoy riding by myself on bike paths, not so much on the road although quiet roads are doable. I enjoy riding with my husband if he doesn’t race off ahead and with friends, and I love riding on the organised bike rides with closed roads and the atmosphere that they create.
I started riding the 7 Peaks Ride back in 2013 as training for a cycle touring trip that my husband and I had booked into from Turin to Paris, over the Alps including Alpe d’Huez. I had been doing some long distance riding over 100km, but had not really done any mountains. I think Lake Mountain was the first, then followed Buller, Buffalo, Falls Creek and then Hotham (I only made it to the Wangaratta Ski Club at Mount Blowhard as it was so windy I got too scared to do the last 10 km….maybe next time).
I found that I love riding up!!! It’s probably my favorite riding. Give me a 5-7% incline any day over a flat continuous road with a headwind.
It’s very satisfying when you get to the top, a great sense of achievement.
But as with a number of women I have met or spoken to the downhill is yet to come. It is with trepidation that I ride down, feathering brakes continuously, hands almost cramping by the end and maybe just little bit uptight. Oh how I wish I could soar down those hills with not a care in the world, but my risk-taking behaviour is not as it used to be.
Now I’m going to blow my own trumpet, something that women are generally not very good at doing. Those beautiful Australian Alps gave me confidence to not only ride Alpe D’Huez (I caught a bus down, ahhh) but to ride some other famous Tour de France mountains in the Pyrenees -Tourmalet, Aubisque, Soulor and even Luz Ardiden.
Well I don’t know if I’ve inspired anyone else but I have certainly brought back amazing memories that remind me to keep on riding and to complete the 7 Peaks next summer. Now there’s a challenge!